Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Very Light Rye

Way back in the stone age of my childhood, the neighborhood bakery made a very, very light rye bread. I have no idea if it was an ethnic thing (back then, I didn't even know what that meant) or whether it was just something those bakery owners invented.

Most of the time when I make rye bread, I make a medium rye - because it's easy. Sometimes I make a darker rye. This time I went the other direction, and made a very light rye. Hint of rye might be more appropriate, actually, because it really is more like a robust-flavored white bread than a rye.

I baked this loaf in a clay baker - like the material flowerpots are made from. The idea is that you soak the clay baker in water and when you bake the bread in the closed container, that wet clay releases moisture so the bread bakes in very steamy environment.

If you don't have a clay baker, you can bake this loaf in a cast iron dutch oven. It won't release steam, but it will retain the moisture from the bread as it bakes.

One thing to remember when using a clay baker is that you can't put it in a hot oven. It will break. Instead, you put the baker into a cold oven and then turn on the heat. It goes into the oven before the dough is fully risen since it takes some time for the oven to heat and for the interior of that container to heat up.

When you take the baker out of the oven, you still have that risk of thermal shock, so don't put it on a chilly surface. A wooden cutting board, a baking rack, or a dry kitchen towel are safer than a cool counter top.

Hint of Rye Bread

1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) rye flour
2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, sugar, buttermilk, and flours. Knead with the dough hook until the dough begins to get elastic. Add the salt and olive oil and continue kneading until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, soak the clay baker and its cover in water.

When the dough has risen, flour your work surface and turn the dough out. Knead it briefly, then form it into a log if you're using an oblong baker, or into a round if you're using a round baker or a cast iron dutch oven.

Remove the baker from the water and drain any extra water out of it. Sprinkle cornmeal in the bottom of the baker and a little bit up the sides. Put the dough into the baker, seam side down, and put the cover on. Set aside to rise until slightly less than doubled - about 20 minutes.

Open the baker and slash the dough as desired, then put the cover back on. Place your rack in the center of the oven, put the baker on the rack, and turn the heat to 400 degrees. Bake for 60 minutes.

Remove the cover (carefully - it's hot and there could still be some steam.) If the bread isn't as browned as you like, let it bake another 5 minutes.

Remove the baker from the oven and remove the bread and let it cool on a rack on a rack before slicing.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.